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Published: Tuesday, 12/11/2001

Growth Partnership says e-mails on ‘tech czar' ad were fast, plentiful

BY HOMER BRICKEY
BLADE SENIOR BUSINESS WRITER
Don Jakeway, lower left, says a nationwide search will be conducted. Don Jakeway, lower left, says a nationwide search will be conducted.
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The search for a “technology czar” for northwest Ohio has received an electronic jump-start.

Sunday newspaper ads seeking applicants for director of the Regional Technology Alliance drew fast and plentiful e-mail resumes, board members of Toledo's Regional Growth Partnership were told at the group's monthly board meeting yesterday.

“By this morning, we [received] at least 15 resumes, and that's just Ohio,” said Donald Jakeway, president of both the economic development agency and its affiliate, the technology alliance. The ads are a prelude to a national search to fill the position that will pay $68,000 to $85,000, depending on a candidate's credentials.

Twenty more had been received by late afternoon, a spokesman said, but Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's was not among them. The mayor, who ends his term of office this year, has been rumored as a potential candidate for the post.

Much of the meeting focused on the Toledo area's future in technology, but directors also adopted a budget for 2002. Revenue is projected at $2.4 million, up 6 percent, and expenses were forecast at $2.2 million, also up 6 percent. Increased expenses are mostly because of a 15 percent rise in personnel costs, including higher medical-insurance charges, and a general 3 percent boost in salaries.

Contributions from the partnership's three main backers stay the same for next year - nearly $1.4 million from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, $365,000 from the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, and $350,000 from the Association of General Contractors.

The 19 directors voted to replace John Paganie, former regional vice president for Toledo Edison Co., who had resigned to accept a position in Pennsylvania with the firm's parent company, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. He was replaced by James Murray, Edison's regional president. The group's new vice chairman, a post Mr. Paganie held, is Mark Zyndorf, chairman of the industrial-commercial realty firm of Zyndorf/Serchuk, Inc.

,“I believe we will see an unbelievable response [to the technology job posting],” Mr. Jakeway told the board. “We want to have a short list [of candidates] ready for interviews by Jan. 15, and we want the [person] on board on or before Feb. 1 to start playing a leadership role ...”

Board members talked about their recent trip to Pittsburgh to study that city's strides in technology. Said J. Patrick Nicholson: “We've got a long, long way to go in technology. They're way ahead of us.”

For example, the University of Pittsburgh's annual research-and-development revenue is about $400 million, compared with about $20 million at the University of Toledo, said Mr. Nicholson, chairman and chief executive officer of N-Viro International Corp. and chairman of the port authority.

The partnership clearly has noticed signs of the slowing economy. Edward Schulte, its vice president of development, said the agency is working with more than 30 development projects, down from the norm of 40 to 50 at this time of year.

“Without profits, companies have cut back on their [expansion] programs,” he explained, adding that the economy and overcapacity worsened the slowdown.



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